With life expectancy hovering around 50 years and no known treatments for most illnesses, most people had endured great loss in their lives. The Civil War created a new market for photos of loved ones and for mourning jewelry, as did Queen Victoria’s very deliberate proper mourning etiquette. Elaborate designs held the braided or woven hair of the dearly departed and sometimes a photo as well.
Hidden Mother Photos
Childhood illness and infant mortality were rampant in the 19th century. Once photography became more affordable and more common, parents began to have professional photos taken of their children – a keepsake in the event that they were taken from this life too young. Mothers can be seen in the background, keeping the children still for the long exposure times, contributing a spooky feeling to the images.
Ladies Growing Their Hair Very Long
With countless hair growth tonics on the market in the 19th century it’s clear that women were keen to have long locks, which were then promptly put up in elaborate coiffures. The famous Sutherland Sisters made a living showing their collective 37 feet of hair in public, a somewhat scandalous act at the time. They also had a line of hair growth tonics and soaps!
From corsets so tight as to cause shortness of breath to hoop skirts that loomed larger than life, Victorian women in particular were prone to wearing some pretty dangerous clothing in order to keep up appearances.